Editorial: Media literacy is crucial for online reading
News media continues to move its content to the Internet, a place where information is readily available regardless of whether it is true. In the wake of the digital news age, disbelief and trust in the news fluctuate. The Northern Star editorial team urges everyone to improve their media literacy before accepting information at face value online and forming judgments or opinions.
Media literacy is the ability to access media in different forms, to analyze and evaluate them according to the Center for media literacy. The editors believe this skill is incredibly relevant and necessary for news consumption.
News consumers should choose where to find their news. According to a January 2021 Pew Research Center, approximately 55% of American adults sometimes or often use social media for messaging study. The problem with social media platforms is that articles, whether they come from a trusted news site or an untested source, are equally accessible.
People who use social media as their primary source of political news are less likely to be involved in the news, follow the news closely, and tend to be less informed about current events, according to the November 2020 Center’s American News Pathways study.
It is especially important that the public recognize and analyze media as the widespread availability of misinformation has directly influenced news confidence and public opinion. Readers will often criticize newspapers and news sources for political bias. However, these judgments may be based on erroneous, competing information from articles containing fake news, speculation, and conspiracy theories.
For example, some people still believe there was no foreign turnout in the 2016 and 2020 elections, and major news sites posting stories of meddling were politically biased. However, Facebook has had to delete over 100 networks worldwide for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior since Facebook began investigating the problem in 2017. Coordinated inauthentic behavior is when groups, campaigns, accounts or sites intentionally share misleading information in order to manipulate public discourse. These accounts were trading ahead of major democratic elections, according to Facebook’s coordinated inauthentic conduct from August 2020 report. Facebook found a dozen networks connected to the Russian internet research agency. The report says that two networks removed in 2020 were IRA-related campaigns purporting to be news units on the social media site.
According to a June 2020 study by Pew Research, people who frequently receive their messages on social media were also more likely to see and hear the conspiracy claiming that COVID-19 was deliberately planned Study.
The editors believe that people should read, and read often, entire articles in order to improve their critical analysis skills. Readers often spend less than 15 seconds scanning articles, according to Chartbeat Study. This is not enough time to absorb or study the information. News consumers may be unaware of some unfavorable but widespread news conventions like using sensational headlines to increase engagement. Headlines and pictures accompanying stories are not always accurate representations of the main point of an article in digital news.
Any article or post can be published on a platform even if news requires more sourcing and review. The editorial team believes that news consumers need to remain vigilant and develop media literacy in order to critically analyze the media they consume.